Sunday, 15 December 2013

130. A Tour de France without EPO

After our daily drenching in Italy that forced us to buy some new and improved winter riding gear in Genoa before coming through France, it hasn't rained since. Three weeks of cold but generally blue skies have seen us cover the 1600 km from Provence over to south western France and then an inland route up via Agen, Bergerac, Angouleme and Le Mans. Tomorrow afternoon we hope to reach Rouen and Dieppe on Tuesday where we will board a ferry for a four hour return to the Pretanic Isles at New Haven.

Following some occasional nights of rather chilly camping in southern France we relied on the amazing hospitality of France's warmshowers hosts to get us home without loss of frostbitten limbs. These evenings of wonderful food, wine and crackling fires have been really memorable. Most impressive of all, although not that surprising perhaps from a cycling hospitality network, has been a generally very active commitment to a wide range of ecological issues including organic farming and alternative energy supplies. Frequently the food we ate came from the garden outside and our hot water from solar panels whilst reminiscing over Jose Bove's attack on McDonald's over a decade ago. Veteran bicycle tourers who have crossed continents (including two families with young children) and others who cycle within their city, along with parents of pedalling travellers made our final weeks on mainland Europe a warm and wonderful experience.

Arnieres-sur-Iton, France
Pedalled: 83,657 km

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